Finland's Kimi Raikkonen kept his cool in the searing heat of Sepang to win the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen kept his cool in the searing heat of Sepang to win the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday. The young Finn drove a faultless race and trounced Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello to notch up win number two for McLaren-Mercedes in 2003.
Raikkonen led for most of the race and reduced McLaren boss Ron Dennis to tears as he took the chequered flag.
Dennis tipped the Finn to go from strength to strength following his maiden grand prix win: "It is his first win and I can’t tell you how important that is for a grand prix driver. It takes a weight off his shoulders and he deserves it.
"We can win – we have shown that in the last two races – and hopefully we will continue that in the remaining grands prix this season," Dennis added.
True to form, Raikkonen was not particularly emotional about his feat. But the Finn said he was delighted to have broken his duck. "It is difficult to say (how I feel about winning the race). Tomorrow I will realise that I have won my first race.
"It was quite good. We didn’t have to try too hard the last 20 laps and just brought it home,” he added.
Confusion reigned at the start of the race… Toyota's Cristiano da Matta started from the pit lane in the spare car and Jacques Villeneuve's BAR never left the grid. Jordan's Giancarlo Fisichella also stalled, after having trouble finding his grid spot, and Heinz-Harald Frentzen had a very slow start in the Sauber.
The Renaults of Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli got away well but a rare mistake by third-placed Michael Schumacher saw him hit Trulli from behind at the second corner. Trulli spun while the Jaguar of Antonio Pizzonia rear-ended Juan-Pablo Montoya's Williams.
Raikkonen’s team-mate David Coulthard managed to avoid the first lap crash but retired from the race with an electronic problem only a couple of laps later. Schumacher pitted for a new nose cone, Pizzonia and Montoya for new rear wings and at the front, Raikkonen was up to second behind pole sitter Alonso.
Sauber's Nick Heidfeld was third, Rubens Barrichello up to fourth and Olivier Panis was storming through the field until an unknown problem saw him retire after his pit stop.
Ralf Schumacher benefited from the first lap chaos after qualifying in a disappointing seventeenth place. Minardi was as high as seventh with Justin Wilson but the Briton eventually retired due to a pinched nerve in his shoulder. Schumacher got a drive-through penalty for the first lap incident and dropped down the field.
Once the race settled down, front-runners Alonso, Raikkonen and Barrichello jockeyed for the lead after the first round of pit stops. BAR Honda’s Jenson Button, Frentzen, Jaguar’s Mark Webber and Trulli all appeared to have trouble locating gears in their stops.
Raikkonen led by over half a minute by the time he crossed the line. Barrichello also had a fairly quiet race, holding on to second from Alonso. The Spaniard put in a remarkably calm and mature performance, finishing for his first podium in third despite having to switch to manually operating the gears and suffering from a fever.
Trulli had an eventful race, spending much of it trying to get past Jordan rookie Ralph Firman and Button. The Italian made several attempts to pass Button but spun on the entry to the pit straight. He hastily returned to the fray and managed to hold his position, but this allowed Schumacher to close on the pair.
Button was eventually passed by both Trulli and Schumacher. Jaguar had a disappointing race - Webber retiring to the pits with an oil-feed gremlin and Pizzonia spinning off into the gravel with a brake problem. Montoya never recovered from his first stop (for a new rear wing) and finished twelfth.
Ralf took advantage drove a steady two-stop race and finished in a distant fourth place and Nick Heidfeld scooped the remaining point for Sauber. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Barrichello, Alonso, Ralf, Trulli, Schumacher, Button and Heidfeld.
Original article from Car